9. Water Closet


John Harington-a godson of Queen Elizabeth I-was a failure as an amateur poet. But he was highly successful in inventing the first water closet, without which the modern life can not be even imagined!

Harington built his house between 1584 and 1591 and installed his own invention, the first flushing lavatory, which he named as Ajax. He wrote a book about Ajax, describing about the tank and its working system.

A pan had an opening at its bottom closed by a leather faced valve. A system of handles, levers and weight poured the water from the cistern and opened the valve.

It was only in 1775; Alexander Cummings took a patent for his flushing closet which was very similar to Ajax.

The main drawback in Ajax was the water seepage through the primitive valve. In 1777, Samuel Prosser used a ball valve to stop the seepage of water from the tank.

Thanks to Harington, gone are the days of chamber pots and ash pits! Today, bathrooms are “the pride and joy” as well as “the new status symbol” of the rich and stylish people!

Visalakshi Ramani

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